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Boys third at Mt. Vernon Relays

Balanced team shows promise as the track season starts
Matt Roeder clears the high jump. Roeder took second in the high jump while competing at the Mount Vernon Relays on Saturday, March 26. (photos by Jeff Hess)

MOUNT VERNON– The Solon Boys started the outdoor season by taking third at the Mount Vernon Relays with 103 points, trailing Lisbon (111) in second, and event host Mount Vernon (129) in first. The weather was overcast on Saturday, March 26; the temperatures reached the 50s and the wind was relatively calm from the south-southeast at about 10-20 miles per hour. As the competitors filed into the track, the public address system came to life, blaring Huey Lewis and the News’ “Jacob’s Ladder.”
Two train horns sounded as the railroad cars passed through Mount Vernon while the Spartans warmed up. It seemed somehow prophetic when the following verse echoed in the stadium as the lonesome wails faded:
“… Mister, I’m not in a hurry
And I don’t want to be like you
All I want from tomorrow
Is to get it better than today
Step by step, one by one
Higher and higher
Step by step, rung by rung…”
The Spartans started their climb as senior Matt Roeder cleared 6 feet in the opening field event, the high jump, to take second place and collect eight team points. Freshman Adam Bock took fourth with a jump of 5-4, adding four team points.
Adding to their ascent, Solon had four competitors in the top 10 in the long jump. Senior Halston Durr collected 10 team points for his first-place leap, setting a new relay record of 20-10, besting Zach Nunemaker’s 2014 Mount Vernon Relays record of 20-1. Sophomore Payton Bandy scored two team points with his 17-9 leap, good for a eighth-place finish. Sophomores Storm Scott and Jack Stahle placed 10th and 11th with jumps of 16-10 and 16-6 1/2, respectively.
Sophomore Tyler Linderbaum pulled the Spartans higher when he garnered when he threw the shot put for a fourth-place finish (42-7) and senior Ben Wilkerson grabbed the next rung with his sixth-place (41-4 1/4) toss of the shot. Solon’s other throwers, freshman Coal Flansburg and junior Jackson Walker, finished eighth (40-5 3/4) and 11th (39) respectively.
Completing the field events, it was clear the Spartans wanted to reach the top as Solon collected three more team points in the discus with two more scoring competitors in the top 10. Junior Jacob Coons grabbed two of the team points with a fifth-place finish (127-5) and sophomore Grant Kollar fetched one more with his seventh place toss (118-10). Sophomore Jake Schaeckenbach finished 11th (103-10) and sophomore Zach Wegmann finished 14th (91-8).
The climb continued as the track events started, and Solon added four team points with a fourth-place finish (8:58:35) by the team of junior Adam Smith, sophomore Carl Richey, junior Tanner Larkey, and Schaeckenbach in the 4x800 relay.
Cross country runner, senior Simon Düster made his outdoor track debut running the 3,200-meter race for Solon in 11:11.14, good for seventh place. Düster commented this was his first season running track and would juggle it with soccer obligations.
The Spartans’ 4x110-meter shuttle hurdle relay team comprised of juniors Bo Black, Trevor Nelson, Lee Hanus and sophomore Luke Ira laid down a 1:03.97, good for second place and padded the team total, scoring eight points.
Spartan senior Nate “Nato” Christensen beat out Maquoketa’s Jacob Kloft by a hundredth of a second, running a 11.71 in the 100-meter, good for first place in the event. Roeder ran a 11.91 good for fourth place, while freshman Hunter Kula finished 19th (13.10), and sophomore Matt Folkerts took 23rd (13.44).
Junior Austin Kennedy added eight team points with his third place (53.84) finish in the 400-meter, while junior Grant Goldsberry finished ninth (55.91).
Ira took second in the 110-meter hurdles (16.36) to add eight more team points to the total.
Adam Smith added another team point with seventh in the 1,000-meter (5:10.92) just ahead of sophomore Carl Richey in ninth (5:18.01).
In the 200-meter, Solon’s team points spiked again by 10 points from two competitors. Junior Graeson Dall finished third (24.11) adding six and senior Brandan Childs grabbed fourth (24.29) padding four. Wegmann finished 11th (24.95) and Bock took 16th (25.65) in the field.
In the 1,600 medley relay, sophomore Kendrick Harris, Coons, junior Trevor McGill, and Schaeckenbach finished third (3:57.77) to add six team points, continuing to build on Solon’s total.
Sophomore Ben Krutzfeldt was able to finish in the points with fifth place (2:12.24) in the 800-meter, good for two team points, while Larkey finished 12th (2:27.22).
The 4x100 meter relay saw the Spartans shine again, grabbing 10 team points with a first-place finish by the A team of Black, Roeder, Childs and Christensen (44.55). The B team made up of Wegmann, sophomore Matt Folkerts, Bandy, and sophomore Jack Stahle finished sixth (47.79).
The team of Goldsberry, McGill, Kennedy and Dall added two team points with their fifth-place (3:39.85) finish in the 4x400 meter relay.
When the dust cleared, the seven-team field shook out with Mount Vernon in first (129), followed by Lisbon in second (111), and Solon was nipping at their heals in third (103). Monticello (93), Maquoketa (31), Beckman-Dyersville (30) and Assumption (26) rounded out the standings. Scoring was reported based upon the official meet report, provided by Kauder Racing, L.L.C., printed at 6:10 p.m. on March 26.
Prior to the start of the meet, Solon Head Coach Mark Sovers expressed excitement in regard to what the fledgling season held, referencing the balance he felt this year’s team possessed.
“We have leaned very heavily on (some very talented athletes) over the last five to six years to be successful. This year we have the opportunity to have one of the deepest lineups from top to bottom to rely on to score points,” Sovers commented in a press release following the meet.
“Every year is a new challenge, but the excitement this year will come from watching athletes who will have the opportunity to step into new roles throughout our line up,” he added. “Track teams are successful when you have balance and the opportunity to score points from start to finish, competing in the field or on the track.”
Sovers said the shuttle hurdle, the 4x100 relay, the discus and the distance medley relay stood out for the Spartans. The continued growth of the athletes in the field events, distance events and the sprints will be the means to achieve a winning balance moving forward, he noted.
“Coach (Brad) Wymer does a tremendous job putting (each thrower) in position to be successful and (brings) out the best in every athlete he coaches,” Sovers’ release stated.
The release added, “Coach Dan Dall does a great job of helping (the distance athletes) take pride in what they do and (challenges) them everyday at practice.”
Coach Sovers alluded to his expectations of his sprinters, saying he is “Looking forward to this group not only carrying on the strong tradition of sprints at Solon but also leaving their mark on the program.”
It is hard to tell where the climb will top out, but the boys track team’s season promises to be interesting in the weeks to come; step by step, rung by rung.
The Solon track teams competed in Tipton on Tuesday, March 29. The Spartan boys and girls teams travel on Tuesday, April 5, to Williamsburg for another co-ed meet slated for a 4:30 p.m. start.